David Burns is a partner specialising in property and commercial litigation from the firm’s West End office in Baker Street, London. He is recommended in the 2020 Legal 500 as 'a charming yet aggressive litigator' and 'an expert in preemption rights, in particular for those in mixed use sites', and in 2019 as 'tactically very astute'.
David has developed a particular expertise in the field of enfranchisement including high value residential lease extensions under the Leasehold Reform and Urban Development Act 1993.
David has a unique combination of experience. In addition to his property and commercial litigation experience, David has higher rights of audience and has appeared as advocate and successfully secured acquittals in several jury trials in the Crown Court.
He also has experience in dealing with property matters in the context of insolvency as well as cross border disputes involving high value HMRC cash seizures and freezing orders and restrictions of UK bank accounts.
David has advised clients in relation to high value disputes in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. David has advised international companies based in Dubai in relation to arbitration disputes subject to the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts.
Some of David’s work is set out below.
David’s clients include substantial investment companies holding portfolios of freehold properties, residents' associations, charities and individual flat owners.
He is regularly instructed in contentious lease-renewal proceedings under the 1954 Act, forfeiture and applications for relief, as well as disputes arising out of rent arrears, disrepair, and substantial dilapidations claims. He has obtained outstanding results in complex commercial forfeiture actions in the past.
David advises both landlords and tenants on all aspects of their relationship and has considerable experience advising on property matters in the context of insolvency. David has advised a large group of leaseholders in relation to the insolvency of several companies in the student accommodation sector.
He advises developers in relation to right to light issues and pre-emption rights in relation to mixed use sites. He has been successful in securing vacant possession so that his developer clients can proceed with their redevelopment intentions.
David has experience of acting for a property development company and its directors in respect of a high value claim by the NHBC against the directors under the terms of the NHBC indemnity policy. By litigating the case in a robust and thorough manner David was able to secure a very favourable outcome for his clients.
A skilled negotiator, David also represents clients in mediations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
David is a member of the Property Litigation Association.
Enfranchisement and Lease extensions
David heads up the firm’s contentious leasehold enfranchisement department at Ronald Fletcher Baker. He has extensive experience advising landlords and leaseholders on matters involving high-value central London properties and complex collective enfranchisements of blocks of flats under the enfranchisement provisions of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 and the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
This includes matters relating to:
- Individual lease extensions - how individuals can extend the lease of their flats
- Collective enfranchisement - how Leaseholders acting together can acquire their freehold
- Absent Landlord acquisitions– how leaseholders can acquire their freehold where the landlord is missing.
- Right of First Refusal – the Freeholder’s obligation to offer the freehold to Leaseholders
- Right to Manage – how Leaseholders can take over the management of their building.
David often assists clients in matters of alleged fraud, VAT evasion and money laundering as well as disputes arising out of commercial contracts and partnership disputes.
David is experienced in litigating against financial institutions and banks in relation to the closure or restriction of bank accounts. He has extensive experience of dealing with restraint orders made on bank accounts and cash seizures under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
David successfully represented a client in recovering over £600,000 which had been the subject of restraint orders and cash seizures by the HMRC. The case was complex and involved several jurisdictions. David undertook a thorough analysis of the allegations against his client, gathered and presented detailed evidence in response and was able to successfully rebut the allegations which ultimately led to the HMRC fully discharging the restraint orders and cash seizures.
David Burns' Recommendations
'An expert in preemption rights, in particular for those in mixed use sites’ - The Legal 500 2020
'Tactically very astute' – The Legal 500 2019
‘A charming yet aggressive litigator’ – The Legal 500 2017
'Exceptional solution focused solicitor with a sharp eye for detail. David takes complicated matters and makes them work for you'
Rudi Ramdarshan, David Burns and Jonathan Roberts jointly head the 'technically minded, very responsive and strategic' team at Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP, which routinely acts for financial institutions, high-net-worth individuals and corporate investors in development-related disputes, including rights to light and right of way issues as well as vacant possession actions, alongside contentious matters pertaining to lease extensions, general enfranchisement and insolvency scenarios - The Legal 500 2020.
The group has a ‘loyal group of major landlord clients’ and has ‘a particularly strong grip on commercial land and tenant related issues’. Partners Rudi Ramdarshan, David Burns and Jonathan Roberts jointly lead the practice which has core strengths in dilapidations, tenancy renewals, construction disputes, rights to light and enfranchisement. The ‘tactically very astute’ Ramdarshan and Burns ‘work around the clock to maintain an ever-increasing practice’. - The Legal 500 2019